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SIMMONS: Under Gray, cash spigot keeps flowing
One year ago today, Vincent C. Gray strode onto a stage at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, put hand to Bible and promised to deliver D.C. residents to a land of fiscal responsibility. Residents cheered him on.
These days, they view him differently.
A recent Clarus poll shows that Mr. Gray’s predecessor, Adrian M. Fenty, would beat him in a head-to-head rematch and that his popularity ranks below that of Mr. Fenty’s predecessor, Anthony A. Williams.
Mr. Williams was viewed as a true fiscal conservative who closely guarded the city’s piggy banks and prepared the city for the years ahead.
“Anybody but Fenty” was the mantra of the 2010 mayoral race.
Now, most voters regret handing over the reins to Mr. Gray, who is neither a fiscal conservative nor a thoughtful visionary.
Not only is he counting taxpayer dollars before they are deposited into D.C. coffers, but he is setting up stakeholders for a scenario that surely will lead to ledgers glaring with red ink (unless the D.C. Council flips the mayor’s script).
The genesis of that scenario is actually a forecast by Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, who predicted 6.5 percent revenue growth this fiscal year and 1 percent growth in fiscal 2013. His outlook also includes a projected $42.2 million surplus in fiscal 2012, but a $46.4 million shortfall in 2013, a $92.1 million shortfall in 2014 and a $129.8 million shortfall in 2015.
So what did Mr. Gray do?
Did he propose to sock away $20 million or even $10 million for potential rain clouds?
Not Mr. Moneybags.
Instead, three months into the current fiscal year, he proposes turning on the spigots:
c $10.2 million to the Department of Healthcare Finance, with $6 million going toward an increase for “patients with more complex care needs.” In addition, $4.2 million for the Healthcare Alliance, which tends to the uninsured and under-insured.
c $10.6 million to the Department of General Services; specifically, $6.5 million will be used to cover unexpected increases in fuel, water and sewer costs, and $4.1 million will cover “historically underfunded” facilities. (“Underfunded” is one of those terms that pound-foolish politicos use after they put a project on layaway.)
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About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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